Lessons learned, one year later

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

It's been a year since I wrote my first column, "A Few Hard Lessons I've Learned." It was first printed in May 2003 in the Central High Tiger, then in late December of the same year in this newspaper. Since it's been a year, I would like to list a few more things that I've learned.

Here we go:

Don't think of your family as strange. After all, you're one of them. Think of them as a uniquely screwed-up bunch of people, and then be proud to be one of them.

A friend will bail you out of jail. A best friend will be the one beside you saying, "Damn! That was fun!" (Not from personal experience, necessarily).

Watch "Fried Green Tomatoes" when you want to see Southern dysfunction turned right. Watch "Arthur" to see a drunk make out good. Well, as good as you can when you end up marrying Liza Minnelli. Watch "The Nanny" to make you feel better about your own family. Listen to "Liquor to Like Her" by Hank Williams Jr. and write down how many people it reminds you of. Listen to "Don't Damn Me" by Guns and Roses when you're angry at the world. It helps. Listen to "Katmandu" to feel a sense of hometown pride.

Watch at least one soap opera.

Call your cousin in New York the middle of the night to cuss about how bad life is. Run up cell phone bills this way.

Don't go with what everyone says is normal; go against the grain. When someone tells you that you're crazy, take it as a compliment.

Read chick lit. It's a national fad, I know. But I tend to enjoy those books. Read anything by Marian Keyes to laugh, cry and learn something all at once. Read the Shopaholic books (yes Springer, I mean you); then cut up all your credit cards.

Last year, the biggest lesson I learned was that your true friends are the ones who stick by you through hell and back. This year, the biggest lesson I've learned has to do with family. Excuse me while I get mushy.

It's the family that sits in the hospital room with you while you sleep for days on end. I'm not saying blood relatives here. The biggest lesson I've learned this year is that family is whatever you make it. A family is a group of people who stay together through the hard times and celebrate with each other during the happy ones. In November of last year, my "family" sat in a small waiting room at St. Louis's Children's Hospital when I had surgery. Today, they're doing it again. That's what family is.

Emily Hendricks is a student at Central High School in Cape Girardeau.

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